My blood was boiling. Sitting impatiently in my Toyota Camry, I’m wondering what in the world was keeping the driver in front of me from turning and going on about his business. Distracted, I scanned my cell phone trying to entertain myself thinking….. there has to be a bunch of cars keeping him from moving. I glanced down, then up again to make sure it wasn’t my turn. Five minutes pass. No movement. Another minute passes and I realize I’m still in the same spot. What is going on???? I put my phone down to see what the hold up is. No incoming cars. But there are cars still passing on the other side of the street. I’m dumbfounded when I figure this out. This man, this guy in front of me is waiting for the “perfect” moment. He refuses to move any further until the street is completely clear. I had to check myself because my friends will sometimes accuse me of having road rage. (I do most of the time) Except this time.
What happened to the man in front of me is exactly what happens to all of us at one point or another in our lives. We have a destination in mind, we hold the image in our head of what needs to happen for us to be happier, wealthier, more at peace. We’ve written it out, we’ve prayed about it, even made the vision board. We’ve even joined accountability groups on social media. But the furthest we’ve gone is talk about it. We are STILL in the same spot with our goal because we’ve convinced ourself to wait for the “right time.”
(I’m pretending I’m talking to the driver but feel free to take me talking to you as well) Move doggonit! At some point, you have to move. Pull up your pants, close your eyes, put your foot on the pedal and jump!! Whatever IT is, take one step forward even if you are scared. If you stand still (or in your car like old man in front of me) you will never get where you need to go. Sure, fear is real and the risk may seem incredible compared to the comfy situation you’re in right now. But comfy folk often end up wondering where the time went. My friend the driver had my patience because I had nowhere to go but home that day. But if I had a destination that demanded I be on time, I would’ve laid on the horn ’till Mr. Sunday driver reacted. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and so he just sat there. Isn’t this what we do? We have nothing pressuring us to change and take the next step so we sit.
Consider the cost of not moving and staying in the same spot. Will it be worth it? I doubt it and you know it too. My experience waiting behind “perfect conditions” reminded me while there are ideal situations, they rarely occur. Now is the best time to start whatever goal you have in mind. Start researching, calling, applying, learning whatever it is you need to get to step two. Here’s to hoping that 3 months from now you aren’t in the same place you were after reading this. Whenever I get stagnant, I think back to how long I waited behind the driver. Ain’t nobody got time for that, right? lol. At some point, we have to make a move. Today, what step will you commit to taking?
A generation that does not know its own history has no past and no future.
Here we are again at the tail end of Black History Month. It’s been a strange time of celebration this year as we are arguing over the legitimacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, remembering the one year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death, one year ago, and simultaneously celebrating the 2nd term of our first African-American president elected in the United States. Black History Month initially started as an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievements on African-Americans because many historians overlooked or ignored our contributions to society. But now, our accomplishments are everywhere. And leave it to social media, particularly the African-American blogs, to pose the question: “Does Black History month matter anymore?” I guess it makes sense to question the need to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of black men and women when we have so many representations of leadership and excellence today in every area of life. Some notables are so big they go by one name-Oprah, Beyonce, Iyanla, Kobe. And let’s not forget President Obama, Shonda Rhimes, Kenneth Chenault CEO of American Express, Gabby Douglas, and Dr. Ben Carson the prominent surgeon. Even Shani Davis is now known as the African-American speed skater from the 2010 Winter Olympics. Black people speed skate? Dare I say when we choose to lead, we dominate? Because there’s so much evidence of how far we’ve come, is it possible that we take our past less seriously now? Although we are in 2013, Trayvon Martin, voter suppression, and cartoon racial depictions of the President and his wife are indicators that we aren’t quite there yet in reaching the goal of all men being created and treated equally.
I’d like to challenge and support the notion that our history as African-American does and will always matter. Take the recent example of an elementary school teacher showing a civil rights movie to her young and impressionable students. The majority of the kids, 3rd graders laughed as blacks were covered with water from hoses and viciously beat for attempting to sit in seats designated for whites only. I cringed at the children’s response because after all, this is 2013, right? It’s been years, over 40 years, since we’ve experienced these acts that defined our history and culture. So what’s happened when little kids laugh at violence toward our race and giggle as if it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon? Somehow we’ve lost our sensitivity to the pain we endured because there’s at least one African-American in leadership on our jobs. Our comfort and affluence is creating a generation of people who know nothing of our past struggle for freedom and care less when they actually hear about it.
It makes it no better when I heard stories of people laughing during the movie Django Unchained. Why would beating another human being be funny under any circumstance? Why would you knowingly laugh at the story of slavery? This time, we have adults who KNOW the historical backdrop of slavery cackling at the visual of a black man being beat. Look how far we’ve come?
If we forget our history, we become likely to repeat it again. Lil’ Wayne rapping about the beating of Emmett Till in an unnecessary vulgar lyric. The large number of black men in prison lamenting lost opportunities while our family strength continues to diminish because of absent parents and faulty priorities. Kids not being interested in Rosa Parks’ legacy or the real value of having the choice of a HBCU as a place of education. Today, many young African-American students are simply not invested in learning IMO because they don’t realize how years ago, we were automatically denied the right to learn because of our assumed ignorance. Look how far we’ve come.
It’s interesting that while we will never see slavery come back in the form of shackles and chains, it’s become an invisible possibility in which we are quickly becoming the forgotten race, the lower race, despite the progress of the nation in electing our first African-American president. I can only suggest that we have to fight harder to remember our history and educate those who look like us while we still have the opportunity. Why? If we don’t, who will tell the stories of why it’s important to have the Voting Rights Act of 1964, the freedom to choose where we worship, and the need to be treated equally regardless of how we wear our hair or what neighborhood we grew up in? We just had the President of Emory University suggest validity in the law that deemed African-American’s as 3/5 of a person. WHAT? Because of these indiscretions, there will always be a need to value Black History Month. We must preserve our history and if it means keeping 28 days out the year as a time to celebrate regardless of our progress, so be it. It’s been said that we teach people how to treat us. There’s still a need to fight for a truer depiction of our value as African-Americans in the United States. Black History Month may be outdated in its method of celebration, but what remains relevant is what we have overcome to get to this place. In my humble opinion, there will always be value in the history of the African-American and it is our responsibility in choosing how to tell and protect our stories.
The pastor started his weekly sermon today asking if we had any regrets based on where we were in life. I lifted my hand up halfway hoping no one would see me and think “oomf” whats did she do? Imagine my surprise seeing people of all ages and stages of life throughout the sanctuary with their hands raised. I’ve always been hard on myself but figured I was the only one who sometimes struggles with ’I wish this would have happened by now’ or the “I shoulds” in life. It was important for me to see that other people have regrets too but equally important for me to hear the pastor’s words that our life works out even when it didn’t go according to our plan. It’s only February but there were so many things already that I needed to have done for the year. Getting rid of debt only to have to use my emergency funds to fix my car. Planning major moves only to meet unexpected resistance delaying my steps. Having to say no to opportunities when I really want to say yes to because of timing. I don’t know about you, but there are times when all the grand plans I’ve created for my life are seemingly on hold to the point where I wonder if “they” will ever happen.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. It is the key scripture we all need to cling too when things don’t work out like we want them to. Key word is WE. We all have plans, but God’s purpose for our lives remains higher than any dream we could ever have for ourselves. And sometimes the best plans, the plans we stay up all night trying to make happen, may not even be part of God’s will for our lives.
The best example I can give is trying to force a relationship years ago when I knew the man I loved was bad for me. Not that he was a bad person, but we didn’t bring out the best in each other. Instead of accepting we weren’t meant for each other, I held on tighter hoping it worked so I wouldn’t be alone. After all, it was time for me to marry. I was 34. So what if he pointed out my every flaw. I held on hoping God would go ahead and fix the situation. You know, make us right for each other. He fixed it alright, but it didn’t look like MY plan. We ended it. I was unhappy. Angry with him and even angrier with God. But he was protecting me from-the unhealthy, empty, sad relationship people sometimes find themselves in because they banked happiness on a person who fit into their personal plan, but not God’s greater purpose.
Just a reminder that rings true no matter what faith, theology, or class you are taking. Things happen when they are supposed to happen. As long as we remain connected to God, the ”thing” will become what it’s created to be in His timing. It’s a familiar lesson, a familiar scripture, but we have to remind ourselves that even the best laid plans by the smartest, most organized individual can go astray.
So even the bad moments, the delays, all add up to the moment where it all works out for our good. I needed to hear that today because I do get caught in regret thinking things should have happened on my timeframe. But his words says all things work together…..so even the delay, the disappointment, the sad moments, are a part of the plan. HIS plan. So I have less disappointment when i recognize that ALL things, even my dreams work together for my good when I give them to God. It will work out.
Are you in a moment that challenges you to remember God’s plan is better than yours? Share your thoughts below.
The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page ~St. Augustine
I’m here to advocate for traveling solo even when it happens by accident. That’s exactly how I ended up in San Juan the weekend after my birthday. It really started out as a celebration girls trip. I’ll spare the details but I procrastinated, friends backed out due to co-parenting issues, new jobs, and surgery so I debated whether I should just chalk it up to bad planning and not go. But remembering how hard I worked during the Christmas holidays going from job to job barely breathing I knew I needed just a moment of down time. I deserved a real vacation even if it was 2 days in a hotel with just me and a tv. So with two weeks left, I bought a travel package to San Juan, Puerto Rico. My coworker gave me details around town because his relatives live there. He also clued me into the hotspots and places to avoid. I didn’t want to hear the ”you can’t go by yourself” speech so I made sure my itinerary was in place before I told anyone else my plans.
I’ve traveled solo in the states before on weekend trips so didn’t think going to PR was that much of a deal. In fact, traveling alone is something I think every woman should do at some point in her life. Of course this trip wasn’t intentional, but I do support ”party of one” getaways because you have time to explore and experience a city based on what YOU want to do. It’s one of the best ways to really have ME time. I can’t count the number of times I went on vacations and somehow came back more tired than when I left.
Hence, my thoughts on tips for traveling solo as a modern woman.
Pick a place you really want to visit. Last year my travel consisted of weddings and funerals. Since last year was bumpy financially after I lost my job, I didn’t travel for fun too much. My goal for 2013 was to return to regular travel so I decided why not the first month of the year? Puerto Rico. I’d never been but heard several friends talk about the Bacardi Rum factory tour. I just knew I wanted sunny, warm weather to kick around town in. It wasn’t my idea to have three layers of thermal underwear with two pair of diabetic socks stuffed into knee boots on a vacation. Puerto Rico gave me gorgeous weather, eclectic food, and a nightlife with sightseeing opportunities. With that in mind, I pulled out my sundresses and sandals and started stuffing them in my suitcase.
Do your research before you go. It will help to feel more comfortable with your surroundings. David, my coworker turned out to be the single best resource I could find. He shared the best places to go and the ghetto areas to avoid. Listening to him I picked a snazzy hotel with a casino downstairs right next to the cruise ships departure dock. His best advice though was telling me not to rent a car in the city. In two short days I felt the wrath of Puerto Rican cab drivers. They drive worse than cabbies in New York.
I also Googled the city for ideas about the best spas in town and, things of interest in the city. That’s how I decided to do the rainforest tour in El Yunque. I’d never been in a rainforest before and my goal was to try at least one new thing while on vacation. It helped to plan my activities so I didn’t wander around helplessly looking for things to do. This is where women end up looking like tourists, out-of-place and easy targets. With a plan, you definitely feel more confident. The people and around town were friendly and I made sure not to talk to anyone who wasn’t working at a restaurant, at a hotel or out and about for directions, etc. Since the primary language was Spanish, my conversation was severely limited (although the majority of the locals somehow assumed saying ”Si” to answer yes in Spanish was license to start a full on conversation in Spanish with me. I learned a bit and jumped on my Galaxy SIII to download the Spanish translator. Problem Solved. Like I said, every activity I planned had me out in very public and around others to avoid unnecessary dangerous situations.
Be prepared for random “Are you here alone?” questions and other distractions. I was well into the first day of my trip before someone asked me the party of one question. You know….”Who are you with?” Halfway through ride to the rainforest, an older white woman the tour guide teased for wearing flip-flops on a rainforest tour reached over her husband to ask me who I came with. I prepared myself for her response and smiled. “Just me. “ She looked back at me with confusion in her eyes and said “you came by yourself?” I smiled and said “yea, I needed a break and it was a really good price.” At first, I couldn’t tell if she was shook or simply disapproved. Surprisingly, she leaned over her husband again and said, “ I used to travel alone too. I loved it, you didn’t have to worry about anyone but yourself. Good for you.” For a moment I couldn’t tell whether she felt sorry for me or wished she could still do the same. Either way, I didn’t care. Half the things I’ve done in life I wouldn’t have accomplished if I listened to people who discouraged me because it didn’t make sense to them. I’ve learned not to tell people my dreams and goals when I know it may not fit the bill for what’s normal to them. It’s all about what’s normal for me.
I had a blast traveling to San Juan and can’ t wait to go back because there’s so much I didn’t see. When I wasn’t relaxing at Zen Spa getting the full vacation package, I was walking the trails of El Yunque Rainforest. Who knew St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands were close on the other side of the island-that’s what the tour guide said)???. My first night, I had dinner delivered and slept in an amazing bed that reminded me it was time to upgrade my mattresses. The next night, I caught the cab down to Old San Juan to have dinner at Cafe Puerto Rico, the best authentic food I overheard the tour group talking about. The bartender shared more tips on being safe for a night out on the town and hipped me to the best rum and Sangria Puerto Rico had to offer. Afterwards, I roamed around a bit to scout trinkets to bring back before catching a 10 minute ride to Candaya near the nightclub strip. I was only in town for 2 days, but I crossed out every task on my list. The most important part of my trip was the down time. Traveling has a way of opening your mind and reminding you that there is always a new experience waiting on you. I took this as a reminder that’s it’s always my choice to live life each day like it’s the first time. Traveling alone as a woman is not time for fear, but a time to live fearlessly. I came back more hopeful, more excited about possibilities, all because took the risk to enjoy life alone if but for a moment.
Trips do not end when you return home – usually this is the time when in a sense they really begin-Agnes E. Benedict and Adele Franklin.
Have you ever traveled solo? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
I ventured back into the world of online dating last year after getting tired of watching my coworker across the hall come from her weekends giddy and worn down from her dates she met on Match.com. I tried it years ago but figured her weekends are always booked so maybe I should try it. Yup, maybe I should actually get back on a dating website. What’s the harm, right? I mean at the very least, I’d get a peek at the men in my area since I haven’t made much of an effort to date since moving to Florida. And by effort, I mean, stepping foot outside and going out. I didn’t realize it but I’m a workaholic. I go to work, my second job, maybe a party or two related to one of my jobs, and then back home. I’ve gotten used to that being my life. Not cute but it is what it is.
So, I got the website address, skimmed over the details, typed in my credit card and pressed send. I only signed up for one month, but of course failed to read the fine print and ended up with another month because I failed to STOP the service in time. My fault. My bad. I say this with all sincerity as I remind myself I paid for this when men “wink” at me with the online moniker “DiscoSnake” or when I get “matched” with someone who lives in Seattle when I specifically asked for matches in Florida. Lol Chillllleee……As with everything, you must have the right mindset when getting involved in something like this. I mean, you can’t expect that match #1 will instantly be tall, handsome, and fully assembled with two legs and all his teeth. I was fully prepared to see a few frogs… with gold teeth and toupees in the bunch. Fast forward to two weeks left on the contract. Since it’s almost over, I had to share my takeaways from the online dating world.
You get what you pay for. You can fill out questionnaires, create a lovely profile with the right catch phrases like “I don’t mind your 6 kids” and “I just want someone to love me for me”, but it’s still very much a crap shoot for $20-30 a month. And when you specifically ask for men in your city but somehow keep getting matches from Seattle and DC, it makes you wonder…. how does this thing really work? To be fair, I’ve gotten a ton of matches in Florida and even spoken to a couple of guys through email and by phone. I learned very quickly in the age of social media, there are two types of men. The ones who are totally comfortable texting as their primary means of communication. (I don’t, I can’t, I deleted and blocked them) and men who immediately want your number in the first two minutes of communicating. I’m looking for the middle ground, AKA a gentleman. A man who knows the value of picking up the phone, asking for a date, but also is savvy enough not to expect me to pass out my number on the first email. Especially after reading the article online about a woman suing Match.com because her online date stabbed her after she turned him down. WHAAT? My high school classmate created ScopeYourDate.com because of the need to know who you are actually getting involved with in any type of relationship. It even encourages background checks on the men (or women) you date. And since Manti Te’o got played, and Catfish is not just a type of seafood anymore, we all have to take our safety seriously. So, no I’m not about to pass my number off to you without knowing at least the basics from you in an email conversation. And that’s the Google Voice number.
The computer will match you, but will NOT do the dirty work. So put your best foot forward. It’s no different from face to face dating. You still need manners. No pics showing off the waves in your head. (seriously) If your shirt is off in every pic, my first thought is not “man he’s sexy!”, it’s “do you need clothes?” Have something to say. And not just hey, here’s my number so call me. You learn very quickly that some people have personality or not so much after talking with them briefly. And it goes both ways. Men with adorable written profiles somehow flat-line when the opportunity presents itself to actually carry a convo. On the flip side, men get salty that I don’t respond to their questions…..like “why are you single?” and the eloquently stated question “I can’t see your body, where is it?” Sigh. He needs to see the body. Sir, (which is what I call them when they focus on the wrong thing and I have to take them out of the potential category) Stop. I digress. With each contact you reveal a bit of who you are. And very soon, you know if you want to meet, or push the “no thanks button.” Another man conveniently sent me his number at 1am in the morning– “I just woke up and would love to hear from you.” “HUH? Same standards apply folks in person. Call YOU at one in the morning? BOY STOP! Not know anything about you but call you in the middle of the night? What I’m saying IS, you might have to display manners at some point and not assume because we matched at 80% basically because we have no kids and aren’t married, we can start with pillow talk.
Have fun with it…..or you will cry. In the midst of seeing some crazy stuff on profiles, I’ve gotten my hopes up a couple of times. There are actually a couple of men who caught my eye and not just because their shirts were off. They reached out to me with perfect manners and introduced themselves. As soon as I responded hoping this could be a good one, their profile disappeared. POOF!! I mean gone without a trace lol!! (Which means they are married, separated, or just plain foolin’ round on the web pretending to be somebody else.) SO expect that if seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. But now and then, you do get that one opportunity to connect with someone you’re really interested in. While it may not turn into 5 years of marriage, it might be 5 months of fun leaving you with a good friend and new memories. Just like there are people playing around with fake profiles and pics, there are people who seriously want to meet someone. I hear all the time how someone met their spouse online. The window of success is small, but just like dating face to face, if you have fun with it, eventually you’ll connect with someone even if it isn’t online. And that’s really the point of it all. Meeting people and getting back in the habit of dating. Oddly enough, I’ve “met” quite a few prospects. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s refreshing to meet men who are serious and know how to approach a woman even online. I have several dates coming up And even though I will never match my coworkers marathon pace, I dipped my foot back in the water and partially met my goal. Yes, I almost cried when DiscoSnake winked at me, but then I realized he really wanted me to laugh at him. And so I did. Online dating is what you make it, and as long as you keep it in perspective, you’ll be fine.
|“It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intenton to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.”|
As always, the beginning of the year leads to resolutions and vision boards, blueprints and buying new planners. My eyes are crossing from reading the numerous “how to” articles on keeping resolutions, finding love and oh yea, keeping the “love handles” off. In other words, these stories are all about NOT flaking on your goals and having something tangible to show for it months later. I had my own aha moment about the “how to” suggestions talking with an acquaintance at a house party. This woman is phenomenal and amazing as a performer in the entertainment biz. Lately tho’, she’s on a kick about needing a change. I asked her what was her ultimate goal was and she immediately blurted “I want to be on Broadway.” I smiled and could easily see her commanding attention from every corner of the stage. Her voice and presence reeks of “watch me because I’m THAT good.” My next question was: ”So,when are you going up to New York to audition?” Surely because that’s where ALL the Broadway shows live, right? She gave me a sour face, shrugged and said “I’m old, tired of moving, and just want for work for whoever will hire me.” Huh? Say what? Basically, she’s already resigned herself to accepting “whatever happens.” Don’t we all sometimes get caught up in “whatever happens” thinking? I’t's that moment when we refuse to set another goal and take a passive approach to life because it might require more effort than we want to deal with. We know her goals and we know her plan. (Don’t expect any changes) But what about you? Any goals? And do you have any intent to act on them?
I can’t criticize the lady at the house party too much because the she is me in a few areas of my life. What I mean is, I have conjured up many a goal (
writing a women’s book) ( losing 20lbs) only to look back and wonder why I have pages but no chapters. I can still wear my pants from last year but my stomach is still pudgy. We all have great intentions but often they get left on that same page until we dust it off our journals wishing we had followed through. The principle is simple but highly effective. “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” I’ve seen it with folk at work who are content to gripe about how unhappy their job makes them, but they won’t even lift a finger to scan the internet for another possible position that gives them joy or allows them to pursue their passion.
So, how bad do you want “it”? What are what are you willing to get it? Successful life coach Valorie Burton states so well that when you give up, you begin to settle. Each time I hear this, I’m reminded that I have a choice. To settle. Or to make a courageous choice. It might be baby steps, or a big step, but anything beats just standing still.
I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts to consider about intent and goal-setting.
- Examine your goals and decide if they are connected to your purpose or just something you said because it sounds good. If it doesn’t inspire you and ignite an excitement within, reconsider why you’ve chosen it as a goal.
- Write out your plan with a timeframe and COMPLETE step one. It’s not how fast your accomplish the goal, it’s did you finish what you started? This is important in keeping your resolve because there will be delays and moments where nothing is happening. But having a plan is essential in reminding you of your vision.
- Find one person who you can honestly share your dreams with. This person can hold you accountable and even encourage you when things may not move as fast as you like. Two is always better than one and we need to surround ourselves with friends who elevate us, not bring us down.
- Decide NOT to settle. Not satisfied with your marriage? Work on it with a counselor or attend a retreat. Not happy with your job? Name two things you’d rather do and take steps (school, shadowing) towards that instead of griping about the boss. Realize that refusing to attempt the smallest effort to change is settling.
Wayne Dwyer says our intention creates our reality. So instead of just working for whoever will hire us, or assuming you have no control over what happens to you, think about your plans, your intent, and decide not to settle. God’s word says I can do all things through Christ Jesus. But it also says faith without works is dead. What are you willing to work for?
I’d love to hear other thoughts on how you accomplished your goals and avoid settling. Please Share!